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Remember when you’d have a stomach ache and your mom would give you ginger ale? Well, that was about much more than trying to boost your mood with a sweet treat. You see, ginger is like the star of the herbal world. Used in Asia, India, and Arabia for more than 2,000 years, the root has been shown to ease the gastric system, treat nausea, and even prevent vomiting.

Here are four more reasons you should up your intake of ginger:

Ginger aids the digestive process: There are two enzymes found in ginger, protease and lipase, which are used to break down fat during digestion. Not only does this aid our body in better absorbing the nutrients and energy found in these molecules, but it helps to keep bad fats from staying in our system. Ginger is also shown to speed up the emptying of the stomach by 50 percent, which can lead to a drastic decrease in discomfort associated with indigestion.

Ginger can lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease: Ginger is high in antioxidants that help prevent high levels of dangerous LDL lipoproteins, otherwise known as “bad cholesterol.” Ginger can also stimulate the gallbladder and the liver, which are essential for clearing cholesterol from the body. A 2015 study found that two grams of ginger per day reduced oxidized lipoproteins by 23 percent, thereby reducing the risk for heart disease.

Ginger can reduce pain and stiffness: Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger has been shown to reduce the progression of muscle pain, especially soreness induced by exercise. Another study found that taking ginger extract twice daily had a significant impact on the joint pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis.

Ginger can fight infections and may prevent cancer: Gingerol, the bioactive substance in fresh ginger, can fight and reduce the risk of infections by inhibiting the growth of many different types of bacteria. It’s especially effective against the oral bacteria that causes gum disease. While more research is needed, ginger may also prevent the growth of cancer cells in the breasts, pancreas, ovaries, and colon.

Adults should keep their intake of ginger to four grams daily. Women who are pregnant or nursing should limit their intake to one gram. You can get your daily dose of ginger in a number of different ways. While there are plenty of pills and extracts on the market, fresh ginger is the best way to reap the rewards. Add chunks of ginger to water for a zesty kick, throw pieces of it into stir fry, or make ginger tea at night for a soothing bedtime drink.

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